02-01-2004, 04:05 PM #1
Hialeah Fla--Another City Tries to Give away their Fire Department
Mayor opposes fire merger panel
A Hialeah councilwoman meets resistance from Mayor Raul Martinez when she proposes creating a citizen committee to examine the future of fire service in the city.
BY MICHAEL VASQUEZ
Hialeah should create a citizen committee that would weigh in on the issue of whether to merge the city's nationally recognized fire department with the county's larger force, Councilwoman Cindy Miel suggested Tuesday.
But Mayor Raul Martinez, who has been in talks with the head of the county firefighters union about the feasibility of such a merger, promptly called the committee idea ''totally outrageous.'' Martinez said he did not want to be forced to bring seven citizens along with him every time he negotiates with the county on the issue.
No decision was taken on Miel's proposal. She said she would bring it back to the council after fine-tuning it and addressing potential legal concerns with the city attorney.
In proposing the committee, Miel reiterated her complaint that she had not been fully informed by the mayor of the merger possibility and had only learned of it through media reports. She said her committee idea was an effort to get others more involved in the process.
''It's a decision of the council and the people,'' Miel said at the council meeting, alluding to the fact that final approval for such a merger must come from the council, not Martinez.
As council members at the meeting were not asked individually their opinion of such a committee, its prospects remain uncertain. However, resistance from Martinez, along with Council President Julio Robaina -- a Martinez ally -- is very likely.
Robaina suggested at the meeting that such a committee would weaken the city's bargaining position in negotiations with the county.
''It would be not only unprecedented but it would be very unadvantageous,'' Robaina said.
Talks between Martinez and the county remain in the very early stages and the mayor said Tuesday he felt it his responsibility to explore the merger possibility if it meant residents could get the same quality fire service at a lower cost.
Stan Hills, head of the county firefighters union, told The Herald recently that early indications are Hialeah taxpayers would save money by switching to county fire service.
At the same time, there is the possibility Hialeah residents and businesses would face higher insurance costs as a result of the merger.
Hialeah's 79-year-old fire department is one of only four in Florida -- and 50 nationwide -- to be awarded a class 1 ISO rating, a classification handed down by a private New Jersey-based company that examines roughly 45,000 departments for insurance purposes.
Hialeah's ISO classification -- which leads many insurers to charge lower premiums in the city -- is based on factors such as response times, the availability of a nearby water supply, training and the quality of emergency 911 service. The county's department, while well-regarded in its own right, has an ISO rating several grades below Hialeah's, which could lead to higher premiums.
Tuesday's discussions over forming a citizen committee highlighted the growing tension between the mayor and his allies and the council's re-energized opposition. Miel was one of two opposition candidates elected in November; the other was Vanessa Bravo. The pair has been joined in nearly every vote by former Martinez ally Roberto Casas.
The council is now almost evenly divided between Martinez foes and allies, although swing vote Jose ''Pepe'' Yedra has sided with the mayor on some key early issues.
Martinez scolded Miel on Tuesday on several occasions. When Miel was unsure how exactly her proposed committee would function, Martinez told her, ``You've got to be more prepared, you've got to be more knowledgeable . . . my time needs to be spent on something else.''
When the 23-year-old Miel later stumbled over her words while introducing another proposal, Martinez said, ``You've got to put that brain in gear before you talk . . . you're young, you're going to make a fool of yourself.''
Miel was measured in responding to the mayor's criticism.
''I don't claim to know everything,'' she said. ``I have ideas, and I think some of them are good ideas, and I would like the council's support.''09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
"Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.
02-01-2004, 05:44 PM #2
and what in the wide wide world of sports would she about firefighting ?>IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
RAY WAS HERE 08/28/05
LETHA' FOREVA' ! 010607
I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
"but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
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